‘High Tea’ Cucumber-Chutney Sandwiches

I grew up eating these delicious, light, fluffy sandwiches. My fondest memories of my summer days when I was in school include going for a rigorous swim, after which my mom would whip up these sandwiches for a light snack. These are often served in homes in India, and my guess is that this was India’s version of the British ‘tea sandwiches’. In India, they slather on butter instead of cream cheese, but I prefer the lightness (and lower calories) of using a light whipped cream cheese.

If you are making these for a party and want a sleek presentation, cut off the ends of the bread slices before cutting them into thirds for bite-sized sandwiches. When making these at home, I prefer not wasting the ends of the bread, and quite frankly, I love the rustic look! 🙂

Enjoy this airy (and deliciously vegetarian) recipe from my childhood days. Share them with your kids, family, and friends and pair it with a delicious cup of cardamom tea to feel like royalty and have high tea! 😉

Love,
Priyanka

Cucumber and Chutney Sandwiches PK
Yields: 1 beautiful sandwich
Ingredients
2 slices of white or buttermilk bread (or any other bread you enjoy)
1 tablespoon of light, whipped cream cheese
2-3 tablespoons of cilantro-mint chutney
1/4 cucumber, thinly sliced into disks
salt, to taste
black pepper, to taste
Fun idea: Stuff these sandwiches with some crispy chips like doritos for an added crunch!

Directions
Spread the cream cheese on one slice of bread. Now lightly salt and pepper this piece of bread. Now spread the chutney over the cream cheese (this minimizes the bread getting soggy from the chutney). Now arrange the slices of cucumber on top of either side (you can add less or more cucumber according to taste).

Serve immediately and enjoy!

Healthy Nachos

Have you guys been tempted by the oozy, amazingness of cheesy nachos at a baseball game or your local taqueria? DON’T DO IT!!! There is absolutely no reason to take in that synthetic, re-heated cheese and poison your body with it, when you can make even tastier nachos at home with real cheese! 🙂 This is a no-cook recipe that takes less than a few minutes to assemble and less than 2 minutes in the microwave. A one-plate meal or finger-food, depending on what your craving is. Serve this as a hot appetizer at your next party too!

Enjoy!

Love,
Priyanka

Nachos PK

Ingredients
tortilla chips, of your choice (white corn or yellow)
one can of black beans, drained
finely diced onion
grated cheese of your choice (I prefer using a blend of mozzarella and cheddar, or you can also use a ‘mexican blend’ found at most grocery stores)
sliced green chili
salsa, of your choice (I like to use both salsa verde and a corn salsa!)
sour cream
Optional topping: grilled chicken or rotisserie chicken

Directions

Fill a microwave-safe plate with tortilla chips. Top with black beans, onion, cheese, chili slices (and cooked chicken, if you want). Microwave for approximately 1 minute 30 seconds (depending on your microwave strength) until cheese is perfectly melted. Top with salsas of your choice and drizzle with sour cream. Enjoy hot! 🙂

Grilled Corn with Cotija Cheese, Cayenne & Lemon

Hi my loves! This summer, you MUST get outside and grill some beautiful corn! This preparation of eating whole corn on the cob is a mix of my experience eating road-side roasted corn in India with my love for Mexican flavors (i.e. the salty Cotija cheese!). This is an easy appetizer to complement your grilled vegetables and meat at your next outdoor soiree. Enjoy!

Love,
Priyanka

IMG_20130714_184857

Ingredients
4 corn on the cob, husks removed but stem attached for easy handling on the grill
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
1/4 cup crumbled cotija cheese (available at most mexican supermarkets)
1 lemon, cut in half

Directions
Grill the corn on the cob directly on the grill until done to your liking. Meanwhile, prepare your cayenne-lemon paste. In a small bowl, juice the lemon halves and add the cayenne pepper. Using one of the lemon halves as a ‘spoon’, mix these two ingredients into a paste and reserve this lemon half to apply the paste to the corn! Just leave it in the bowl.

Once your corn is grilled, apply the cayenne-lemon paste to the corn using the lemon half. Finish the preparation by sprinkling the beautiful cotija cheese on top and enjoy hot! 🙂

Cheesy & Creamy Broccoli Soup

This is the quintessential, classic green vegetable soup that we all grew up on in America. Our parents ‘conned’ us into eating green veggies with this soup, but perhaps we conned them into enjoying such a luscious and creamy and cheesy treat! 😉 My soup craze continues, and I hope you enjoy this simple yet delicious recipe that you can share with both your young and adult friends!

Love,
Priyanka

Yields approximately 6 servings
Broccoli Soup PK
Ingredients
2 tablespoons butter
1 onion, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 cups chicken broth (can use vegetable broth to make it vegetarian!)
6 cups broccoli florets, steamed
3 tablespoons butter
2 cups heavy whipping cream (or milk, for a lighter version)
3/4 cup of shredded cheddar cheese
Kosher salt and ground black pepper, to taste

Directions

Melt 2 tablespoons butter in medium sized stock pot, and saute onion and celery until tender.

Add broccoli and broth, cover and simmer for 10 minutes.

Put all the ingredients in a blender (don’t fill the blender pitcher more than halfway full and be sure to hold down the lid of the blender with a folded kitchen towel). Carefully start the blender, pulsing first, then leaving it on the ‘liquefy’ or ‘puree’ setting for about 30 seconds-1 minute (depending on the strength of your blender).

Note: If you do not own a blender, you can use a stick blender and puree the soup right in the cooking pot.

Pour blended soup back into a saucepan, add cheese, and simmer for approximately 10 minutes on low-medium heat. Season with Kosher salt and black pepper, according to taste. And serve hot with a crouton garnish! Enjoy 🙂

Beet Salad with Yogurt

The experts say beets are a superfood, and greek yogurt is supposed to be good for you too – so what better than a creative salad that is creamy, tangy, robust in flavor, yet easy on your waistline? This is a Middle-Eastern recipe that I have had at an Iraqi restaurant. I fell in love with this dish so much, that I had to recreate it and I LOVE this salad! For me, this is a great one-bowl meal that works as a great lunch at your desk. However, This is also a great side-dish to kebabs, hummus, or anything else that has a middle-eastern touch 😉

The hardest part of the recipe is getting the beets cooked, so a quick cheat on this is to go to a store like Trader Joe’s and buy their packaged, pre-cooked red beet (can be found in their refrigerated section near their cut vegetables). Or, you can take the longer route if you have the time!

Enjoy this recipe, my loves. And enjoy the health benefits, while treating your stomach to deliciousness!

Love,
Priyanka

Red Beet Salad with Mint PK
Yields: 4 servings
Ingredients

1 teaspoon Kosher salt, plus more to taste
3 red beets, washed and leaves removed (or you can use pre-cooked beets that are available at many grocery stores)
1/2 cup Greek yogurt (e.g. Fage or Chobani works great!)
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
the juice of one lemon (or one tablespoon of lemon juice)
Fresh-ground pepper, to taste
Optional garnishes: sumac, lemon wedges, cucumber slices, pitted olives

Directions

Bring a large pot to a boil over high heat. Add a teaspoon of Kosher salt once it is boiling. Add the whole beets and boil on medium-high heat for about 30 minutes, until fork tender (not mushy!). Tender, yet firm is the perfect consistency for these cooked beets.

Meanwhile, fill a large bowl with ice and water; set aside.

When the beets are cooked, drain them and, while still hot, slip off their skins (if you are afraid of staining your hands, wear disposable gloves during this step!).

Place peeled beets in the ice water bath for 10 minutes. Drain and dry the beets. Chop the peeled and cooked beets into small, bite-sized cubes.

Add the yogurt, garlic, lemon juice, and a pinch Kosher salt and pepper.

Mix gently with your glove-covered hands (or two spoons) until the mixture turns a fuchsia color. For a creamier salad, add more yogurt. Transfer to a serving bowl. Top with sumac, serve with a lemon wedge and garnish with cucumber slices and pitted olives for an extra bite, if desired. Enjoy! 🙂

Can be kept in the refrigerator for one day.

Smoked Salmon Crostinis

I make these crostinis a lot, but I made them recently and they flew off the table so quickly, that I realized that I just had to blog these for you. I get that warm and fuzzy feeling when a NO-COOK recipe is enjoyed so thoroughly (and I hardly had to do anything!). This recipe is simple, delicious, and easy to whip up as a beautiful appetizer for an impromptu meal or even a fancy shin-dig you had planned eons earlier. The salty bite of the capers is ever-so-important, so don’t forget those! And of course, one cannot over-stress the importance of fresh dill alongside gorgeous salmon slices. This is not season-specific so enjoy this recipe in summer, spring, or even winter!! PS…did I mention this is a NO-COOK RECIPE? 😉

Enjoy!

Love,
Priyanka

PS – I apologize in advance for being so general about the amount of the ingredients, however how much cream cheese and salmon you put on the baguette really depends on your personal preference (and the width and size of your baguette, which I simply cannot guess). Feel free to be as stingy or generous as you want with these ingredients 😉


smoked salmon crostini PK

Ingredients
1 fresh baguette (I prefer using garlic baguette to get that extra flavor, but you can use any baguette you enjoy)
2 teaspoons melted butter in a small cup
wild smoked salmon, amount to your taste (wild smoked salmon is amazing and much better than regular–splurge! the difference is noticeable)
cream cheese, amount to your taste
fresh dill, one sprig per baguette slice
capers, drained (you can buy these in a jar)

Directions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Meanwhile, slice your baguette diagonally into approximately 1/4 inch thick disks. Place the slices on a cookie sheet or a flat baking pan. Brush them with the melted butter, sprinkle them with a dash of Kosher salt and into the oven they go for approximately 4-5 minutes. Flip the pieces of baguette at this point and check for doneness. [Note: You don’t want both sides to be super crispy! Lightly toasted is what we are going for here].

Remove the baguette slices off of the pan and let them cool for a few minutes. Spread cream cheese onto them, top with wild smoked salmon, and garnish with sprigs of fresh dill and capers. Serve immediately and enjoy! 🙂

Oven-Roasted Lamb Kefta (Meatballs)

I love this recipe because of it’s simplicity, ease of putting together, and bold flavor profile. The spiciness of the chili powder contrasting with the rich flavors of the cinnamon, cumin, and garlic literally create a party in your mouth. My signature on these meatballs is the addition of fresh pesto – in my opinion, adding the pesto adds a nuttiness and a little fattiness that keeps the meatballs incredibly moist and divine.

You can serve these alone with some fresh yogurt to dip into (or get fancy and serve it with some tzatziki for an authentic Greek feel!). Make it a meal by stuffing whole-wheat pitas along with some lettuce and tomatoes and there you have your lunch and/or dinner ready! Or you can even throw these delicious meatballs into some tomato sauce and simmer them until ready, and you have a gorgeous lamb meatball in tomato-sauce dish that you can serve over cous cous or rice.

The options are endless, and I see this healthy, oven-roasted lamb kefta as a base recipe that can serve as a one-bite appetizer at a fancy party, or as the filling of a sandwich the next day for lunch (although it is highly unlikely there will be any leftovers of this recipe) 😉

Enjoy! And be sure to share this one with your family and friends, as all good food should be!

Love,
Priyanka

IMG_20121101_001012

Yields: Approximately 12 appetizer-sized meatballs

Ingredients

1 pound ground lamb (can substitute ground chicken, beef or turkey and still get a great result!)
1 1/2 tablespoons ground cumin
2 tablespoons paprika
1 teaspoon chili powder (optional)
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon celery seeds
1 teaspoon seasoned salt
1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
3 tablespoons of homemade pesto (or any store-bought pesto works great too!)
1 medium white or yellow onion, minced
1 egg
1 tablespoon fresh chopped mint (or you can use dried mint)
Garnish: fresh mint leaves

Directions

Place lamb, cumin, paprika, chili powder (optional) garlic powder, celery seed, seasoned salt, cinnamon pepper, pesto, onion, egg and mint together in a bowl.

IMG_20121031_234833

Mix evenly using clean hands [I prefer putting on clean, disposable gloves and then mixing. For some reason, mixing ground meat with your hands is the best way to incorporate all the ingredients! No kitchen tool can replicate what your hands can do :)]

Mix gently until evenly combined. Form mixture into 12 meat balls (I use a 1/4 cup measure for each meatball – or you can use an ice cream scoop or melon baller, size of your choice). Round off each meatball in your hands using a circular motion, and place each meatball on a parchment-paper lined baking sheet that has been sprayed with non-stick cooking spray. Chill kefta until ready to use (up to 2 hours in refrigerator).

IMG_20121031_235724

Note: There are two ways to cook the kefta – you can lightly fry them on the stovetop or bake them in the oven.

Method 1: Heat extra-virgin olive oil in sauteé pan. Once the oil is hot, add meatballs (be careful not to overcrowd the pan with too many meatballs (if needed, cook in batches). Turning the meatballs occasionally for even cooking, cook for about 6-8 minutes until desired exterior crispness and interior doneness.

Method 2: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Bake the 12 meatballs on the baking tray you prepared them onto and bake on the center rack of the oven for 15-20 minutes until browned as desired. Serve hot with yogurt, red onions, and cucumber slices! Pair with flatbread, pita bread, or fresh rice for a whole meal! 🙂